Updated reactions below
The Charlottesville, Va., Daily Progress broke the story of a D.C. lobbying firm forging letters in opposition to the House climate bill:
As U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello was considering how to vote on an important piece of climate change legislation in June, the freshman congressman’s office received at least six letters from two Charlottesville-based minority organizations voicing opposition to the measure.
The letters, as it turns out, were forgeries.
“They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter and sent it to our congressman without our authorization,” said Tim Freilich, who sits on the executive committee of Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit network that tackles issues related to Charlottesville’s Hispanic community. “It’s this type of activity that undermines Americans’ faith in democracy.”
The letters came from the Washington lobby firm Bonner & Associates, which offers “Strategic Grassroots / Grasstops support to help you win.” It hasn’t yet come to light who hired the firm to do this possibly illegal work. Another set of forged letters claimed to represent a local chapter of the NAACP.
Perriello, a first-term Democrat from a swing district, has emerged as a strong voice on climate and environment issues since his election last fall. He voted in support of the House bill that inspired the letters, the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
No other members of Congress have reported receiving forged letters such as this, though there’s a good deal of speculation that Perriello wasn’t the only target. Let us know if you’ve heard more. It wouldn’t hurt to urge your own representatives to review files for similar letters.
- The NAACP issued a statement about the misrepresentation of its name:
“The NAACP is appalled that an organization like Bonner and Associates would stoop to these depths to deceive Congress. In this case Bonner and Associates are exploiting the African-American Community to achieve their misdirected goal. These tactics illustrate that discriminatory tactics normally used to deceive voters are now being used to deceive the Congress,” stated Hilary O. Shelton, Director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy.
- Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, launched an investigation into the forged letters.
- The young folks at Climate Action Factory DC quickly put together a “naked” rally against “naked fraud” outside Bonner’s office on Friday afternoon.
- Think Progress recounts some of Bonner & Associates’ history of deceptive tactics for its clients.
- Firm founder Jack Bonner said a temporary employee is to blame. The rogue temp was fired.